Promethean News

Being Aware, Being Human: Little Princes

 Being Aware, Being Human: Little Princes

By Eben Yonnetti

    Happy New Year and welcome back to our beloved Siena College! After a break that may have seemed too long for some and too short for others, we are back again at the start of another semester. Hopefully it will be full of happiness and academic success for all of us.

    Over break I had the good fortune of doing quite a bit of reading. One of the most interesting books I read was Little Princes. It is the autobiographical story of Connor Grennan’s work and adventures in Nepal between 2004 and 2006, rescuing victims of child trafficking. Grennan first encounters a group of children while volunteering in the Little Princes’ Orphanage at the beginning of a year-long world tour. He learns that the children are not orphans but are in fact victims of child trafficking who were taken, often after their parents had given their entire life savings, from the Nepali countryside by a man who promised to keep the children safe during the civil war. Homes, education, and ample sanitation in Kathmandu were a welcome alternative for parents whose children were otherwise being forced to serve in the revel Maoist army. Instead, the children were dropped into slums, orphanages, and sold as slave labor.

    Starting with just a small group, Grennan attempts to reunite an entire lost generation of Nepali children with their parents in the mountainous countryside. Along the way he faces debilitating injuries, hostile Maoist forces, language barriers, and the herculean task of finding the parents of children whose origins and identities are often lost. 

    Having spent eight months in Nepal last year, this book grew dear to my heart. I recognized descriptions of roads, people, food, and public transport as nearly identical to my own experiences in Nepal. Nevertheless, this book is not only for people familiar first-hand with Himalayan culture. It is a book about incredible human courage, strength, and resilience. Grennan first arrived in Nepal not with altruistic intention, but as a way of justifying his self-serving travel year. The reader moves with Grennan as he experiences enormous difficulty and frustration in his first days in the orphanage, grows to know and care for each of the children, and intimately shares Grennan’s arduous journey to find the lost families of these children. All the more surprised is the reader to learn that Grennan currently resides in Connecticut, where he regularly speaks about his work and continues to coordinate the reunion of lost Nepali children with their parents through his NGO “Next Generation Nepal,” founded in 2006.

    Written in a diary-like fashion, with abundant wit and humor, Little Princes is a touching and thoroughly enjoyable story. It does not romanticize Himalayan culture, but reveals the pitfalls and courage faced by a people entrenched in poverty, war, and a physically difficult environment.

    I highly recommend this book. It is a story of compassion, deep conviction, humor, and hope. Hopefully some of you will have the opportunity to read it. If you cannot afford a copy, please contact me and I will be happy to loan you mine!